Passport to Wine Adventures
As the helicopter lifted off from the winery, I gazed down on the patchwork of vineyards comprising Dry Creek Valley’s wine region. We were en route to Passalacqua Winery Ranch on the northern end of the valley for a private Cabernet tasting. Emerging from the helicopter, surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards, we were greeted with a luscious glass of their Cabernet Sauvignon. Chairs were set up under the heritage oak trees and along the ridge so that we could sit and savor the wine while admiring the view. There was ample time to discover the nuances of the wine before the return journey.
At Passalacqua, wine club members were invited to taste barrel samples before their release. Tasty bites were paired with some of their signature wines on the sunny patio. Cabernet Sauvignon lovers who chose the VIP treatment were given tastes of the latest vintage of five Block Select Cabernets on the beautiful grounds overlooking the vineyards. Welcomed with a glass of Prosecco, we were guided to the adirondack chairs and treated to the Radici della Famiglia Cinque, a Cabernet blended with Sangiovese, smooth and delicious.
At another station we were seated under a vine-covered arbor with two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon before us. Block 2 grows on a sunny southern exposure, while Block 4 is on a northern slope. Wine was paired with crispy roasted duck over creamy polenta and a savory beef Wellington. The group was mixed about their favorite of the two exceptional but very different wines. The final Cabernet Sauvignon tasting was from Block 18 and 19, accompanied by wild mushroom focaccia.
At Passport to Dry Creek Valley, more 50 wineries participated in a two-day wine and food extravaganza. Wineries paired a selection of wine with tasty morsels prepared by local restaurants, along with themed entertainment ranging from live music and disc jockeys, Olympics-style competitions, Viva Las Vegas, and more. The biggest challenge, with so many choices, was deciding which wineries to visit.
Pedroncelli, in their 85th year of wine production, turned their barrel room into a party with food and wine stations set up throughout. Sauvignon Blanc was paired with peccorino-fennel sformato on crostini with a fennel salad. Sangiovese was paired with a chicken cacciatore over polenta, while their Zinfandel (Mother Clone) was paired with porchetta on ciabatta with roasted peppers and onions. Library wines and port were also available for tasting.
Truett Hurst Winery made use of their beautiful outdoor terrace and gardens with seating, food, and a live band. Guests could stroll to the river or sip wine in one of the red adirondack chairs along the shore. Their selection of delicious Zinfandel complemented the barbeque beef brisket.
Talty Winery served up cherry chipotle lamb tacos paired with four of their award-winning Zinfandels and a choice of Syrah on the outdoor patio. The band played country music while guests sipped and savored the wine and food. Additional tastings were available inside the tasting room.
Chateau Diana took us back to the 80s with a disc jockey spinning memorable tunes. They served Kobe beef sliders with their Zinfandel, while additional tastings were offered in the brand-new tasting room. Dry Creek Vineyards hosted a regatta-themed event, with nautical colors and decor, as well as their logo tattoos.
Dry Creek Valley is 70 miles north of San Francisco and only 20 miles west of the ocean, creating a perfect growing climate for 40 grape varietals. It is Zinfandel that is king in this region, where they have cultivated this grape for more than a century. With this much experience, Dry Creek Valley wineries have mastered the art of creating award-winning Zinfandel. Read about a wine tasting weekend in Dry Creek Valley.
Details: Passport to Dry Creek Valley is held the fourth weekend in April every year. Tickets sell out quickly and can be purchased starting on February 1st on the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley website.